The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 introduced significant changes in police governance and accountability, in particular the introduction of directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners and a Police and Crime Panel for each force area. In May 2021, as part of the devolution deal for West Yorkshire, the functions of the Police and Crime Commissioner transferred to the newly elected Mayor for West Yorkshire.
The Mayor must be able to demonstrate that the decisions they make, and the way they make them are appropriate. The Police and Crime Panel is in place to constructively challenge the Mayor whilst also supporting them to ensure that they meet the needs of all the communities they have been elected to serve.
The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel maintains a regular check and balance on the actions, decisions and performance of the West Yorkshire Mayor in relation to police and crime functions. The Panel does not scrutinise West Yorkshire Police; it scrutinises how the Mayor carries out their statutory responsibilities and how they set the strategic direction for the Police Force.
The Mayor is not accountable to the Panel, instead they are directly accountable to the public.
The Panel has the power to request reports and call the Mayor to attend its meetings where they undertake public scrutiny of the actions and decisions relating to police and crime matters. The agenda and reports for the meetings are available on this website under the 'Meetings' section. The meetings are open to members of the public and are also live-streamed to West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel YouTube Chanel.
The Panel is made up of 13 elected members (councillors) from the five West Yorkshire authorities and 2 independent co-opted members. Panel members work in close partnership with each other and with other key agencies, to guarantee the best possible policing and crime outcomes for the whole of West Yorkshire.
The West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel is responsible for:
- Reviewing and making recommendations on the amount of Council Tax the Mayor intends to collect from each household to support policing. The Panel can demand that the proposed amount is made higher or lower (i.e. exercise a veto) but the Mayor only needs to meet this demand once.
- Reviewing the Mayor's proposal about who should be Chief Constable and therefore in charge of the operational running of the police force. The panel has the power to turn down the preferred candidate but again they can exercise this veto only once.
- Reviewing and making recommendations on the Mayor's five year Police and Crime Plan.
- Reviewing the Mayor's Annual Report which will outline their performance against the Police and Crime Plan.
- Confirming the proposed appointment of a Deputy Mayor for Police and Crime who will work for the Mayor, if they choose to appoint one
- Dealing with non-criminal complaints made against the Mayor which relate to their responsibilities for overseeing police and crime functions